World Mental Health Day is on Wednesday 10th October this year and this global recognition of mental health issues aims to bring heightened awareness and support attitude change throughout the world. At HR Solver we are in full support of improving mental health awareness particularly in the workplace.
The Mental Health Foundation reports;
- 7% people experience mental health problems in the workplace
- Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men
- Evidence suggest that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions
Often employees report that they don’t feel mental health issues get enough support at work.
Increasingly, employers are trying to take preventative steps and promote employee mental well-being, including encouraging a culture of openness and providing training to managers to help support and signpost employees.
However, if you don’t feel your workplace is as proactive as it could be or you are struggling with mental health yourself, you could suggest that your employer considers the following;
- As a first step, celebrate or ask for permission to promote World Mental Health Day in your workplace this coming Wednesday.
- You could do something simple, for example, if you can acquire a pin board you could pin some of the common misconceptions associated with mental health on one side and some side effects of these perceptions on the other, or indeed pin some well-known activities for maintaining better mental health. For example, regular exercise, talking through issues, reducing alcohol intake…encourage your colleagues to add their own ideas too.
- A very simple step, which might be easier if you are in a remote workforce, could involve changing your email signatures for the day to show your support of World Mental Health day.
Longer term, if you wish to continue improving your employer’s focus on mental health you could suggest;
- A buddying system where colleagues are trained to specifically support in mental health conversations across the workplace.
- Recognising the statistics above, particularly that women in full time employment are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, ensuring your employer sees the benefits of good access to flexible working programmes will be important.
- Access to occupational health services to assist in dealing with issues as they arise. Normally a specialist works with employees and the employer on a case-by-case basis to determine how the workplace can better support individuals. Occupational therapists will evaluate the suitability of the work in light of any mental or physical conditions, recommend changes that could be made to the work environment and daily tasks and should also help set expectations for short, medium and long term recovery.
- Access to counselling services
- Access to an Employee Assistance Programme. Often included in benefits such as cash health plans employees will have access to telephone support lines to privately discuss concerns on a variety of subjects including; financial matters, personal home issues, work problems and the stresses and strains of daily life.
- The creation of a stress management plan can be helpful too where issues have already been identified. This is where an employee and manager meet to identity potential risks and stressors in the work environment, workload and how these might be alleviated.
- Resilience or mindfulness training
We know it is not easy to talk about mental health in the workplace, however, increasingly managers and bosses are recognising that they need to openly discuss and consider mental health issues. Occasions like Global Mental Health Day is a great opportunity.
Be brave and good luck!
Any further questions on this or other aspects of your employment chat to our HR Gurus now
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